Twitter follower Eric Robach was up late Sunday night fretting about the state of the New York Giants in the trenches:
@DanGrazianoESPN There's a lot of talk about the Giants taking Andrus Peat or Brandon Scherff. This 9th pick is crucial. O-line or D-line?— Eric Robach (@ERobach94) April 13, 2015
This isn't as easy a question as it should be. On the face of it, this should be a defense-focused draft for the Giants, because their most significant personnel shortages are on that side of the ball. But No. 9 is too early to take a safety, and the pass-rushers available at that spot all look like 3-4 outside linebackers instead of 4-3 defensive ends. Add in the fact that the Giants' second-round pick is No. 40 overall -- still high enough that they could conceivably get a quality defensive starter there -- and you do think maybe offensive line is the way to go at No. 9.
So let's take a look at where things stand with the Giants' offensive line with 17 days left before the draft.
I don't know whether they will play Schwartz at left guard or right guard. They just hope he can recover from his 2014 injury issues and lock down one of those spots. Assuming he can, the name that jumps out here is Jerry, who started 16 games for the Giants last season, but struggled mightily in run-blocking. That's the spot that really needs an upgrade, whether it's by finding a right tackle and moving Pugh inside to guard or finding a better guard. If the answer is coming in the draft, the former option is more likely.
Reynolds is the backup center right now and Newhouse the swing tackle. Mosley and Herman remain prospects that intrigue the Giants, and it's possible Mosley could overtake Jerry for a starting guard spot if the arrangement remains as it is now and he has a strong camp. Mosley was the first to get the shot to replace Chris Snee at right guard last season in camp. He just couldn't lock it down. Jones, the former CFL center, is an unknown but could surprise and play his way into a starting guard job the way Richburg did last season as a rookie. But again, that's a long shot.
Possible draft solutions
Eric mentioned Iowa's Brandon Scherff and Stanford's Andrus Peat, either of whom could come in and maybe start at right tackle in 2015. There is a lot of chatter that the lineman the Giants like best is Miami's Ereck Flowers, as NJ.com first reported and we discussed last week. Flowers is a bit more of a project than those other guys, but he has the upside of a potential franchise left tackle. And if he is that, then he's surely worthy of a top-10 pick. The Giants could escape Beatty's contract as early as next year if they found a suitable replacement, and if they found one in this draft you would have to consider it a success.
Other possible solutions
Joe Barksdale, a good, young run-blocking tackle from the St. Louis Rams, remains unsigned and hasn't found the free-agent market for which he'd hoped. I was told some weeks ago that the Giants had no interest, but you do wonder if that can change as the offseason drags on and the price drops far enough. Veteran Jake Long is also still out there, and though his age and injury history scream "stay away," you could see a team looking for tackle help taking a shot on bringing him to camp on a no-risk kind of deal. To be clear: I don't think the Giants will go this route. But these are names that are out there, about which I get asked, and I thought it was worth updating. Plus, as long as they're available you can't fully rule out anything.